Andy Roddick is a man of many talents. The former American tennis star made himself a household name with his accomplishments on the court and is now using his excellent command of the game and quick-wit humor as a commentator for the BBC during Wimbledon.
It was only three years ago when the man they (should’ve) called A-Rod brought his famous serve to the lawns of Wimbledon for the last time; he bowed out to Spaniard David Ferrer in the third round in 2012. Throughout the course of his Wimbledon career, Roddick, a former World No.1, found his way past exceptional grass court players — from Lleyton Hewitt, to Tomas Berdych, to Andy Murray — but in all his years at SW19, there was one man who had Roddick’s number each time they played: Roger Federer.
Federer beat Roddick at Wimbledon four different times, three of which were finals; their most memorable encounter took place in 2009, where Roddick was not broken until *14-15 in the fifth set to drop the match. It was undoubtedly one of the most emotional Grand Slam finals to have ever taken place, no matter the rooting interest.
Not only did Federer cost Roddick a lot of money in the bank — and a lot of trophies in the cabinet — but he also prevented Roddick from getting his hands on the title he had coveted the most after winning the U.S. Open in 2003. Despite all of this, Roddick did not resent Federer, but rather embraced and appreciated the living legend standing across the net from him.
Roddick’s “I’d love to hate you, but you’re really nice” quote about Federer embodied their relationship. He has praised Federer about as much as anyone over the years, calling him the “most physically gifted player I’ve ever played against,” in 2005, even going as far as to say, “I don’t know many people in history who would have beaten him.”
Fast-forward to Friday afternoon and Roddick was a live witness to another Federer masterclass, and fortunately for him, it was in front of an Andy whose last name isn’t Roddick. The performance Federer fashioned together today against Andy Murray was one of his best ever and Roddick asserted that Federer served even better today than he did their 2009 final — when he hit 50 aces.
It’s a fascinating dynamic having Roddick, who endured Federer’s barrages for years, analyzing the Swiss from up above. Whether he’s talking about Federer’s serving patterns or his demeanor on the court, having someone who has seen Federer from a vantage point most have not is a wonderful supplement to the viewing experience. He provides unparalleled insight into Federer’s game that no other commentator can match since he’s the only commentator who can say he’s played Federer during his prime.
In this regard, Roddick’s position as a commentator is unique. Not only is he able to discuss Federer from a distinct perspective, but he’s also able to deliver commentary on a whole host of current players who he went to battle with as a player.
As soon as it was announced that Andy Roddick was doing Wimbledon coverage for the BBC, the tennis world rejoiced. It was never in doubt that Roddick would be superb in the booth and within minutes of covering his first match, that belief was immediately confirmed. He’s well-spoken, knowledgeable, and most importantly, willing to say what’s on his mind and be honest about the matches he’s covering.
Even if that gets him into (a little bit of) trouble.
Commentating is a role that could last many years for Roddick — maybe as long as Federer’s career. No matter how long it lasts, tennis is lucky to have a voice as prevalent and as astute as Roddick’s calling matches like the one we saw today and the final we will see on Sunday.